How to DJ with SpotifyA guide to DJ software for Spotify
Want to know how to DJ with Spotify so that you can have a million tracks to play with? You’re not the only one! I get this question a lot so I decided to put together the best Spotify DJ hardware, software, top tips, and a few words on those dreaded legal implications.
So if you’ve ever wondered “How can I DJ with Spotify music?” This is the article you need to read. Let’s get started.
Table of contents
Last updated: May 21, 2020
Firstly I’ll go through all of your DJing with Spotify options just so you know whats really available to you.
One of the easiest ways to DJ with Spotify is to use the onboard DJ mode that’s accessible in the standard Spotify app, but there are a couple of caveats to that. If you use the standard mode then you’ll need to be online throughout your set.
There will also be pauses to your track list whilst the ads play. Clearly you don’t want this to happen! So you’ll have to get Spotify Premium. There you can skip the ads, and download tracks so they’re available offline. This is a obviously a must but something worth pointing out. You can get Spotify Premium here.
A much MUCH better solution is to play tracks from Spotify via third party software.
Algoriddim’s Djay 2 (Until July 2020)
The Djay app is a good example as it allows you to mix every track on Spotify with the help of virtual mixing decks.
It also comes with a function called “Automix AI” that might be useful if you’re looking to just forego the duties of DJing and just want a crude DJ mix for a party.
It predicts and recommends tracks that will enhance your set, based on what you’ve already downloaded. It’s never going to be perfect, but it comes in handy for the rookie DJ looking to level up. You can find out more about djay 2 here.
UPDATE from Algoriddim
Algoriddim announced in March of 2020 that Spotify is pulling support for its popular Djay software as of 1st July 2020. While this is bad news for users of the software they are busy working on offering replacement streaming services that should offer a more robust long term solution to DJ-ing with streaming services.
It currently supports both Tidal and SoundCloud streaming services so its worth checking those out. DJay has always been one of the best DJ apps for streaming services, being one of the first to offer Spotify integration, so you’ll no doubt see some of the best DJ streaming options in their software.
Virtual DJ – (Currently suspended)
Virtual DJ is another app that you’ll see a lot written about, but at time of writing the integration with Spotify has been suspended. We’ll keep you up to speed with how that goes, but for the time being you’ll be better off with a few of the other entries on this list. If its your preferred DJ app then its worth keeping an eye on their website to see if they bring this feature back.
Another popular choice is JQBX. It’s not the catchiest name, but it does allow you to create ad-free mixes when you signup for a Spotify Premium account.
The queuing function for your songs is a bit limited, and it doesn’t include everything from Spotify.
For example, you can’t synch recently played songs between the two apps. But it kind of redeems itself by having a built-in chatroom where you can swap tips with other aspiring DJs.
Pacemaker is also worth a look when you want to auto mix with Spotify. It’s designed so that you can display a virtual turntable on your iPad, and a track list on your iPhone at the same time. Whilst some of the other apps on this list are specifically for parties, Pacemaker is also great when you’re practicing.
It allows you to quickly and easily send your mixes to your mates over the built-in messenger. That way you can get feedback and tips on how to get better before your next set.The best version is for iPad.
Can I use Spotify with Traktor?
Unfortunately at this time its not possible to play Spotify songs with Tracktor. There’s a number of reasons here. The Digital Rights Management of Spotify makes songs inaccessible to DJ software like Traktor unless the makers of Traktor (Native Instruments) set up a licensing deal with Spotify.
At the moment they haven’t done this but they are aware its a feature many users would like to see integrated in the future.
Can I use Spotify with Serato Pro?
Again at this time its not possible but unlike Traktor there are some work-arounds that some users have claimed work. Its not easy and possibly unreliable, prone to being stopped quite easily with a Spotify update. Its always best to work with offline, fully legit music sources for your DJing. If you really want to try it then watch this video.
As well as compatible DJ app you’re also going to need plenty of hardware when you want to DJ with Spotify. Algoriddim is one of the best manufacturers to take a look at, not least because they make the djay 2 app. That means you can browse the specs without having to get stressed out by those annoying compatibility issues Spotify.
So here’s a few Spotify compatible hardware options
The Reloop MIXTOUR is a compact 2-channel controller that you can use just about anywhere. It’s not advertised as an entry level piece of kit, but the affordable price and slimline design make it an ideal first purchase for the novice DJ.
It comes with a built-in audio interface which is great, and has all of the basic mixing controls you need as a beginner. A good option if you want to give DJing with Spotify a try without spending too much.
Think of this as your basic Spotify DJ hardware to get you going. It should have more than enough features for you at least at this price point. For the latest price take a look on Amazon here.
Then there’s the Beatpad 2 if you’re looking for more advanced hardware. Again, it’s from Reloop, and it comes with the seamless integration with Spotify that you would expect from one of the top DJ brands.
It’s got a sampler, slicer, looper, and a dynamic multi-effect control all in one slimline package that looks great in your room, and in the club.
We’re a big fan of the touch-sensitive pads as they offer plenty of control and touch, and feel very solid and reliable when you’re working on your set.
Then there’s the eye-catching tricolour illumination. It’s not all for show; it actually helps you know exactly what your music is doing at a glance. It will take a little getting used to, but is well worth the investment. Because you can control every aspect of your mix from the Beatpad 2, you get a lot of flexibility for your money. A definite one to check out here for the latest prices.
The MIXON 4 is also worth a closer look if you’re in the market for an upgrade. It’s the world’s first 4-channel DJ controller that you can use with the full suite of djay apps, as well as Spotify.
You can easily connect it to any iOS device to get the music across, and because it accepts a lightning connector you won’t have any issues with WiFi or Bluetooth dropping out in the middle of your set. Something you’re going to really love is that it’s also a docking station for the brand new iPad Pro.
With a 12.9” screen showing you even more controls, you’ll be able to have unprecedented control of your mixes without the need for a laptop. I can see a lot of pros moving over to the latest iPad as it has the power and connectivity a DJ needs. This is one of my favourite controllers at the moment. For the best price at the moment take a look here.
Let’s put the Reloop hardware to one side for the time being, and take a look at the DDJ-WeGO4 from Pioneer DJ. Not the catchiest name, but the control it offers will have you glad you gave it a second look.
It’s a compact budget level piece of kit, but that shouldn’t put you off. The tactile control is a really important feature, because it gives you the same kind of responsive feedback.
The great thing about it is that you can actually start scratching with the jog wheels — something that you can’t say about all that many budget controllers.
There’s an onboard sampler, and it’s even taken Hot Cues and Pad FX from far more advanced hardware. Here’s Amazon’s latest prices for this impressive piece of DJ gear.
Numark iDJ Pro
Last but not least, we have the iDJ Pro from the musical maestros at Numark. It’s a piece of kit that looks just like DJ equipment used to, and yet it’s compatible with all the latest streaming platforms.
The smartest thing about it is that you can dock your iPad in it backside down, and add a screen right where you want it.
This allows you to have it in your eye line whilst you’re mixing, rather than having to glance up at it every time you want a snapshot of your mix.
The physical controls are a nice compliment to the touchscreen interface, and show that when it comes to DJing, there’s no substitute for developing that all-important touch and feel.Visit the Numark website here for the latest details.
So this is where it all gets a little bit tricky. You know that there’s a Spotify Premium that you’re paying extra for, and you know there’s a whole host of hardware that’s compatible with it. So…is it actually legal to DJ with Spotify? Here goes…
If you take a look at the rights Spotify grant you under section 4 of their Terms & Conditions of Use, they have the following to say:
“The Spotify Service and the Content are the property of Spotify or Spotify’s licensors. We grant you a limited, non-exclusive, revocable licence to make personal, non-commercial, entertainment use of the Content. You promise and agree that you are using the Content for your own personal, non-commercial, entertainment use”
Sounds very much like lawyer speak, and it’s not that clear to all too many DJs precisely what they can and can’t do. After all, you just want to play some tunes.
What is explicitly clear however, is that you can use Spotify within DJing software and apps like Pacemaker and djay (until July 2020) that we talked about a little earlier.
So, how about the massive grey area in the middle? The definition of a DJ is someone who plays music for public entertainment, which you would think means that you can’t DJ at a party with Spotify. Clearly you can use it in your own home when you’re practicing, but what about if you want to play that same mix at a party?
Well, first make sure that you’re playing at a venue that has a license for you to play and perform music to the public. Every good DJ will know to do this, but we’re trying to shed some light on this grey area.
Next, you need to decide whether what you’re doing is akin to ripping a CD and changing platforms, or playing a mix you legally prepared at home.
If you can argue that what you’re doing is the latter, then all our research shows you should be fine.
There are no cases of fines or prosecutions to my knowledge that have resulted from DJs using Spotify Premium with some authorised third party hardware to entertain a crowd in a public place. As long as you’re happy with what you’ve read above, and the venue you’re playing at is happy, go for it. Just make sure they know you’ll be using Spotify, because honest is always the best policy.
UPDATE: Spotify change of terms and conditions
Spotify recently updated their terms to include the following which makes things a little clearer for all types of DJ, whether professional or ameteur.
“You may not, and you may not permit any device or system used in connection with the Spotify Service to, segue, mix, re-mix, or overlap any Spotify Content with any other audio content (including other Spotify Content)”
Pretty concise right? If you’re transitioning one song over another and using their service, they wont be happy.
Whether this is enforceable is another matter. Software developers love to find loopholes and ways around licensing issues in order to make money.
Just to throw another legal implication of using Spotify with DJ equipment….
In order to DJ commercially with digital music you will most likely need a license such as the ProDub licence from PRS. The issue is that this licence and others like it are allowing you to pay royalties on the songs you play and those you digitally copy or transfer from one medium or location to another.
This doesn’t however currently apply to streaming music services. Where you’re not downloading a track but streaming it destroying the data as its consumed. DJing with Spotify really throws up a serious grey area here. So if you’re looking to DJ commercially and legitimately you’ll need to consider this rather dubious sticking point. Its unclear at this time whether a service like Spotify would cause more legal headaches than any of the convenience it may offer.
Another issue you are going to need to consider is just how reliable Spotify actually is. There are a number of potential issues that could result from using a streaming service to get your music for a live set.
Internet speed and reliability
Firstly, you want to check the quality of the WiFi at the venue you intend to play at. If it starts to lag and dropout, then it’s going to be a nightmare of an evening up on stage.
You should also factor in the hundreds of revellers who could be using the same internet connection to FaceTime and Facebook Live the evening.
If possible, you might want to ask the venue manager if they can lock people off the WiFi so that you can make full use of the bandwidth. Not an ideal situation. So don’t stream music, only ever play downloaded offline songs.
Download the music before the event
If you’re worried about streaming speed, then you’re going to want to download your setlist, plus a few dozens favourites, onto your mobile device.
This is another bonus of upgrading to Spotify Premium, and it will give you the peace of mind that you still have access to your setlist. The days when DJs used to carry everything around in vinyl certainly have a lot still going for them!
Also make sure that you have a backup somewhere of your download. There’s nothing worse than getting there and for one reason or another your device just dies on you.
If you have a spare then you have a chance to get up and running without having to spend 10 minutes on stage whilst the atmosphere petters out. Check out my useful DJ checklist to make sure you’re fully prepared for your DJ gig.
Spotify will also upgrade itself automatically over time, as all online services do. It’s really important they do this as it fixes bugs, and patches up network security so they don’t drop out for weeks on end.
One potential issue this may cause is incompatibility with a previously fine piece of hardware. If you one day find that your controller just won’t connect, then it’s possible that it’s not supported by the latest version of Spotify. You can either try and return Spotify to an earlier legacy version, or do a full shutdown of the device that’s running it.
Either way its not an ideal situation although its not exclusive to DJing with Spotify. All DJ software is upgraded over time and compatibility is always something to watch out for.
The short answer is no. While there are some options out there its currently an unreliable way to build a music collection and the issues around internet access and software support make it a risky strategy.
The legal grey areas also make it a potential issue, depending on the venue’s licences and permits
Spotify is likely to be regularly updating, meaning that one day everything works fine, the next day it doesn’t work at all. Which can cause you major headaches, not a very professional way to DJ.
There’s a reason why the world’s leading DJ software and hardware makers generally don’t support streaming music services.
Purchase your music legally, download your tracks and keep them in your iTunes library or outside of any music software. Make sure they are backed up to multiple devices. Purchase from only retailers like Beatport and Juno Download.
If you really want to use Spotify then make sure your tracks are downloaded, avoid updating your software by disabling any auto update features. Have a backup set downloaded from another source or sources in case Spotify’s music becomes inaccessible.